DERRY — Time is running out before the Town Council puts a final stamp of approval on the fiscal year 2015 budget, but the group decided to take another swipe at the bottom line.
The council is expected to vote on the final budget number May 20.
At a meeting May 6, councilors voted, 6-1, to slash another $235,625 from the proposed budget. Only Councilor Phyllis Katsakiores voted to maintain that money.
The cut will take away salary and benefit increases for town staff not mandated by a current contract.
Chief Financial Officer Frank Childs said the recent cut will reduce the town services portion of the budget by $0.09. Town Councilor David Fischer made the motion to cut the money.
“If we don’t do this we are being reactive instead of proactive,” Fischer said. “We need to focus on the big picture.”
Fischer had concerns about town salaries and the rate of proposed increases.
“Town employees exist for serving the residents and community,” Fischer said, “not vice versa.”
Acting Town Administrator Larry Budreau had presented his proposed $37 million budget earlier this year. Councilors held workshops with all town departments.
The council had made minimal cuts in the total budget number, taking away approximately $175,291 up until this point.
They cut approximately $8,000 for a cemetery lawn mower and opted not to fund a community development director position at a total cost of $112,000.
Budreau said the latest budget cut would be “a travesty for the town of Derry.”
He said right now the town has several union contracts that are not settled. The salary/benefits cut will adversely affect town employees who have worked in good faith.
Council Chairman Mark Osborne said it wasn’t too late in the process to make more cuts.
“We have concerns from residents who put us in these chairs,” Osborne said. “Adding or subtracting, now is the time to do it.”
Councilor Michael Fairbanks said the decision to cut was difficult.
“I just wish I had a crystal ball,” he said.
The council will vote on a potential increase in the veterans tax credit increase May 20; that could raise the town’s tax rate by 4 cents if approved.